Advice for Freelancers

Why Self-Care is Even More Important During Busy Periods

I spent most of last week quite ill. Things are improving, but I’m not at 100%. This is an issue I’ve had on and off most of this year. I have a scan in late November to try to get to the bottom of why this issue keeps coming back. Last week wasn’t a complete washout, but a combination of extreme pain, fever and sleepless nights meant I got very little work done. I always try to do as much as I can while I still can but even the most stubborn among us simply have to admit defeat sometimes. Last week, I simply didn’t do any work on Friday – I couldn’t concentrate so there was no point trying to carry on.

When you’re ill, you’re ill. There really is no point forcing yourself because you will burn out fast. For me, the busy period is autumn. It’s also flu season, norovirus season and winter bug season. I’m more likely to get ill during my busy period than at any other time of the year. If this busy autumn also applies to you – whether you get ill or not – you’re going to have to engage in a bit more self-care to get you through your busy period.

Disengaging Helps You Recharge

When you have a lot of work on, it’s easy to fall into the trap of letting it consume you. When work consumes you, you don’t take those moments to relax. Your stress levels might rise and that means lost sleep, fatigue and irritability. As tempting as it is, ensure you take time off at the weekends and find some “me” time to do stuff you enjoy. You need to look after yourself to come back fully fit and ready to face it. At the weekend, I took a much needed bath with a book. A couple of days later, I started making this year’s Christmas Pudding. I enjoy cooking; it has always helped me relax. When I come back to work after having taken my mind off it, I feel much better.

You’re Not Helping Your Clients By Being a Slave To Your Desk

At the other end of the spectrum and if asking you to look after yourself isn’t working, then perhaps consider the people who pay you. Your clients no doubt rely on you for your skills and pay your accordingly. If you’re busy, ill, exhausted, then you cannot perform at your best. You’ll be doing them a disservice. By disconnecting, you’re ensuring that you’re at your most mentally active and healthy so you can perform the task(s) to the best of your abilities. You want to maintain a good relationship so it’s best to put work on hold – or if it’s that urgent that it can’t be put on hold, hand it to somebody else. It’s better to pass than submit shoddy work, right?

Take the Initiative Before Your Body Goes on Strike

Do you know what happens when you don’t disengage when you’re ill or overworked? You burn out. When you burn out, you aren’t motivated, you can’t concentrate and there is no way in hell you’re going to force yourself when your body and mind are rebelling against what you are trying to do. A few weeks ago during a busy week, I took a trip out to a local nature reserve with my camera during my lunch break. I was struggling to concentrate on work and one of the pieces was a little stressful. But this trip where I snapped some cormorants and gulls, helped me relax. I did something similar in the summer during a hot week.

Try it, it really helps!

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